Confinement rituals in India

Confinement rituals in India

Confinement Rituals in India

For years now, the Indian society has the system of confining the new mother and the newborn child for a certain amount of period. The idea behind this ritual was to protect the mother-child from infections and allow them to focus on one another. While the period of confinement differs in every community and region, this is the basic concept.

Back then in a joint family setup, women were as busy as today’s women are, except that it didn’t get much recognition. But because of the strong family support, it was easy to allow the new mother to focus on her baby and take rest. Nine months of carrying a baby in the womb and the trauma of childbirth can do a number on your back, which is why we find our moms constantly forbidding us from sitting up for long periods of time.

Typically, the period of confinement varies between 40 and 60 days.

But what does this confinement period entail?

1.Isolation of the mother and child: This served a dual purpose – keeping them away from infection (something that is easy to attain in the modern times) and giving them privacy.

2.Refinement of motherhood skills: Back then, mothers used to be really young, hardlyteenagers themselves. Therefore, this confinement and ample guidance from the elder women of the family gave them enough training to look after the child.

3.Rich nutrition: To breastfeed a child, a mother must herself be well-fed. For this, she is given protein and carbohydrate rich food, along with herbs and spices that increase the milk supply in the nursing mother.

4.Ample rest: As mentioned earlier, carrying a child for nine months and the trauma of childbirth (and no epidurals!) can do a number on the back. With nothing else to do other than feeding and changing the child, the mother would pretty much spend most of her time lying down or sleeping, speeding up the healing. Not to mention the massages that helped her relax.

In today’s time, as working women, we find it difficult to stick to this confinement period, and are tempted to multitask in that time, otherwise considering it a waste of time and old-fashioned and old wives’ tales. Also it is hard to follow all the confinement rituals when you have no support system.

Here are reasons why, if possible, you must try following the confinement rituals.

Some Indian confinement rituals you can try:

1.While it is not technically me-time, it is the best time for you to switch off, and focus and bond with your newborn.

2.Speaking of switching off, this is also the best time for to let go of stress and take rest – irrespective of whether you have had a normal delivery or a C-section. Let someone else handle the household for some time. (heard of “sleep when the baby sleeps”. Try it!)

3.Whether you are breastfeeding your baby or formula feeding, this is the best time to not worry about calories and replenish your energy with protein-and-carb rich food. You deserve it.

If there is no other reason, then think of your grandmother, and how she always has double the energy than you, despite doing double the work you did. And to think, that generation of women birthed more children than our generation ever will. This is not to say that confinement period is the only reason for that, but it is definitely a major contributor.